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Why I’m Not Freaking Out About Being Out Of The Gym For Three Months

Kim: [00:00:00] Welcome to episode 83 of the Fitness Simplified Podcast. I’m your host, Kim Schlag. On today’s episode, I share with you the story of how I have been battling illness for the last three months and have been unable to train at all or keep up with my usual nutrition habits. I share what effect this has had on my fitness and what I intend to do about it.
I share with you why I am not panicking, even though I have not been in the gym in three months and help you to see why you don’t need to panic if you find yourself in a situation where you’re out of the gym, whether that’s for vacation or holidays.
Ready? Let’s go.
I have been extremely ill now for three months. Almost three months. In five days it will be three months since I first got sick. Yes, I know the exact day. It was Tuesday, October 27th. And I know this because of COVID.
So, I was put in charge of our church’s, socially-distant Halloween party. I had a committee and we planned to this amazing event that was going to be like — and it was, it was fantastic — it was like, you know, at Christmas time you can go to these light shows where you stay in your car and then you drive through and you see all these cool things? We did that, but for Halloween. We had really cool, like, spooky displays, lights, and it was really, it was amazing.
I put myself in charge of running the traffic since I was in charge of the whole event. I was the person greeting every car as they came and then letting them go at specified times. Well, these were all people I knew, and so they would roll their windows down and we would talk while they were waiting for their turn to actually go into the event.
And, you know, socially distanced, six feet, wearing a mask; but as the night wore on, I noticed I started coughing. Okay, you know what it’s like to cough these days — you cough too much, it’s really like, “Oh gosh…” like you feel very self-conscious.
I started coughing and then I started coughing a lot. And by the end of the night, I was really coughing and I kept telling people, I’m like, “Oh, I’m not sick. I’m not sick,” because I hadn’t had a single sign of being sick before that moment. Well, two days after that I was just flat on my back. I was down for the count.
Now, I’ve had pneumonia twice before, but it always comes on slower. It starts like, you know, I get a cold, it feels like I have a little bit of a runny nose, a little bit stuffiness. Eventually, like I get sicker and sicker, and over the course of weeks, I ended up feeling very sick.
This was over the course of days. I felt terrible. I immediately got a COVID test, it was negative. Based on my symptoms and my previous health history, my doc diagnosed me with pneumonia and I started just a bucketload of medication.
Now, for the first bit, I really tried against all reason to continue running my business as per usual. You know, when you work for yourself, what are you going to do? Like, there’s no one else to pick up the slack. You can actually catch two podcast episodes, both recorded on the same day about four days after I really became sick. I was still in the, like, “gotta go on with the show” kind of mode.
One of them is an episode of Decades of Strength, that’s my other podcast I do with three other coaches, and in the middle of recording that, I fell asleep. I fell dead asleep. And we started talking about it later on in the episode, I was like, “I was sleeping guys.” And right after that, I recorded an episode with Jordan Lips. Incredible episode, if I do say so myself.
We talked a lot about emotional eating and we talked about women in strength training. And you can hear that I don’t sound great. I was so tired. It was really– it was dumb that I did these.
Anyway, you should check them out for the content, but also, if you want to hear what it sounds like when a person is sick and is pretending not to be sick you can listen in to that.
A few weeks into November, I finally cried uncle. I realized I was being completely ridiculous. I was not getting better. In fact, I was getting worse and I needed to cut back on my work. This was really hard for me. I have poured my heart and soul into this business over the past, gosh, good bunch of years at this point.
I’ve been online three years now. Coaching longer than that, but my business online has been over three years. And it was hard for me to do, but I had to cancel all of the calls I had upcoming and put people on a list basically saying, “sometime when I’m better, we can talk about coaching.”
I continued to get worse. I mostly spent time in bed in those months or on my sofa in those months. And I will tell you, I am still not better.
Let me put it this way: I’m better, but I’m not well. And you can hear that in my voice. I’m not well.
I have to severely limit my activity or I end up exhausted. My symptoms kind of go and come back. You can hear now I sound like I have a head cold, this is new in the past 24 hours. I have to limit my speech.By that. I mean I have to limit how much I talk in a day or I lose the ability to speak and breathe at the same time. It ends up just sounding like breathy whispers.
I think you may have heard it just a bit ago: if I laugh, I start just sounding breathy. If I cough, I sound breathy. So no laughing, no coughing, and limited amounts of speech. The reason I sound as good as I do now is I have stayed silent for the past several hours with the knowledge that I was going to record this podcast. So I have to manage the amount I speak and then I can sound almost normal.
I do have upcoming appointments with a pulmonologist and an ear, nose, and throat doctor that will hopefully figure out what is wrong with me and get me treated so I can return to full health. 
Now, I’m going to tell you, I have lost muscle the past three months. I have lost strength. My general level of fitness has declined and I am not happy about any of that.
I haven’t worked out in three months. I’ve only returned to walking 5 to 10 minutes a day in the last week. Three months ago, I was only 20 pounds away from my goal of dead lifting 300 pounds. I had been consistently training one-arm push-ups for two months. That is a serious investment of time and energy.
Same thing with running. Although it was a shorter timeframe, I was on week 3 of a 12 week running program. I was seeing incredible improvement in my endurance and I was psyched about that. And all of this has been a setback. It’s all been set back from this enforced break that I’ve had to take.
I’ve also gained fat. I was not at my leanest right before I fell ill. In fact, I did a photo shoot about a month before and I considered holding off on that shoot until after
a planned cut I was going to do, but I decided against that mainly because, one, I needed photos for my step challenge and to update the podcast cover art, but also because I don’t — I don’t want this to sound conceited here when I say this — but even with a few extra pounds, I still looked amazing. You know, I look strong, I look healthy, I look like a regular person who really cares about her fitness. And that is something, frankly, I want to put out there because the sea of super lean, uber ripped women on social media  isn’t necessarily representative of what many women are aiming for. And I want to be a representation of, “Hey, you don’t have to get that ripped. You don’t have to get that lean to still look really healthy.”

I’m way off on a tangent here. My point is I was planning a fat loss phase because I was at the top end of my comfort zone as far as my body composition. I wanted to be a bit leaner.
I actually had not weighed in forever, so I had no idea how much I weighed three months ago. And I still haven’t weighed because, frankly, I’ve had bigger fish to fry more recently than how much do I weigh. From the fit of my clothes — as in, they do not fit very well — I have gained quite a bit of weight. Also, from the way I look. I can see it. I can see it in my face, I can see it just looking in a mirror. I can see it. I’m going to guess that I’ve gained around 12 pounds, maybe more. Somewhere between 10 and 15 pounds in the last three months. And I’m not happy about that.
But it is what it is and one important thing I want to highlight about this weight gain; this is a really important take home point: I became completely sedentary. Completely. All of November, I was in bed or on the sofa almost exclusively. I began adding time at my desk back in in December, though the bed and the sofa were still a large part of my life.
I wish I had actually worn my step tracker so I could have seen how few steps I was getting in in a day. I’m going to guess it was under a thousand and it was actually only that high because my kitchen was under construction, which means to get from my bed to the basement family room. I had to go down two floors and then back up two floors and sometimes during the middle of the day I had to come up a floor to talk to the people working in my kitchen.
So to explain to you how sedentary I was, I would wait for someone to come into the room to fetch something for me that was out of my reach. I’m being dead serious about that. If I could see my thermos of tea across a room, I still did not get up to go get it. It was taking all of my energy to be able to breathe. I felt so terrible.
Even now I have to conserve my energy to make it through the day, so I do not walk willy-nilly around my house. I’m certainly not trying to get added steps in. I really try to stay put as much as possible because I am so low on energy.
Now, my point in explaining this is I had a daily minimum — previous to being sick — of 7,500 steps. It was usually over 10K, but my daily minimum was 7,500. Especially on the days I ran, I was  well over 10K. I also lifted for 60 to 90 minutes, four days a week.
And that’s a huge factor in the weight gain that I have experienced was reduction in my movement. It surely played a massive role. So if you are not taking your daily movement seriously, you are hindering both your health — you know, research points to 7,500 steps daily — that number seriously reduces all-cause mortality. You know, yay for not dying.
Also, you are really effecting your fat loss results. NEAT — non-exercise activity thermogenesis — all that movement outside of structured activity is the most variable piece of your metabolism. Specifically, your TDEE or total daily energy expenditure. Take advantage of that and move. You don’t have to track steps, but tracking steps is the best way I have found to get a hold on how much someone is moving and systematically work to increase that movement.
Right now for me, I’m working inside of this energy envelope. I have a certain amount of energy and, you know, I’m a person who is sustaining an incredible illness, right? And so I have very little energy. It is a top priority for me to move as much as possible while not negatively impacting my ability to breathe or totally tanking my energy.
If I do too much, I end up having to rest for 24 to 48 hours. And I have pushed that too hard twice now and been out of commission for a few days each time. For you, if you’re healthy, you can push way harder than I can.
What you want to consider is how hard to push — when you’re thinking like, “okay, how hard should I push?” Here’s the question I want you to consider: “what can I sustainably do over time?”
Not, “what can I do once and burnout.” So look, if I sent you to Disney World today, I’m like, “here, go to Disney, here’s a free pass.” You could walk easily over 20K steps today. But just because you can do that in a very specific setting doesn’t mean you should try to do that in your daily life — go from, “I’m not moving at all” to, like, “I do Disney steps.”
You want to build in the habit of moving. You don’t want to overextend, burnout, stop, then at some future point, you know, repeat that cycle. It is way more effective to steadily increase steps as you carve time in your schedule and you really think like, “where can I put in some extra movement? How can I do that? Can I get up from my desk every hour? Can I use the furthest bathroom in the office? Can I walk around Target two times every time I go? Do I need to put in a walk in the morning and in the evening? Do I need to walk after every meal?”
And all of these strategies, likely some combination of these strategies, is going to work for you and you want to spend time tinkering with that. So take a week, monitor your daily step count without changing your routine, average those out, and take that number as your baseline. Then add on 500 to 1000 steps as your first goal. So if your daily average from your test week was 3,500, use 4,000 to 4,500 as your first step goal. Keep that goal until it feels pretty easy to do.
Okay, so you figured out times and systems to make that happen. Then what you do is you increase by 500 to 1000 again. So you go for a couple of weeks and then when it feels easy and you figured out how to get steps in, you adjust, and you want to keep doing that until you hit at least 7,500 — remember, that’s a really good baseline for overall health — and then at that point, you can either maintain that number or you can keep increasing until you reach 10,000 steps.
I will say: don’t do more steps at the expense of paying attention to your nutrition. Always pay attention to your nutrition first and then if you’re really doing well with, you know, planning your food and logging your food, keep adding steps until you get up to 10K.
Okay, moving  back from NEAT to how I’m feeling about the impact of this illness on my fitness and my physique. I’m not thrilled, but I am not panicking. 
Why am I not panicking?
I know how
to build muscle. I know how to improve my endurance. I know how to lose fat. I know how to increase my strength. I know how to build my skill in the skill-specific goals that I have set.

And with this air of mystery and confusion gone, there’s just no need for panic. It’s going to be a ton of work. It’s going to be a crap-ton of work, but I’m not worried that I can’t do it, and I’m not doing what I had to do for years, decades, even where I was searching desperately for answers. You know, following celebrity diets and buying into hype about foods to eliminate and workouts I had to do to blast fat, and I always just felt so, so confused.
So now I’m at a point where I know exactly what I need to do to get back to the level of fitness and the physique that I had, and even surpass both of those. I just have to put in the work.
So, if you have been out of the gym for an illness or on a vacation, just relax.
If that comes up here soon, if you’re like, “okay, I’m going on this trip and I’m not going to be able to work out” or “work’s extra busy and have to seriously reduce how much time I’m working out,” relax. Remember, you just go back to what was working. You haven’t ruined anything. You just go back and you put in the work.
If you’re completely out of your routine because you got back into old habits, that is also not a reason to panic. You start from where you are and you build those habits back, one step and then the next.
Now, if you’re not clear on what works to lose weight, that’s big difference, right? If you’re like, “I don’t have any idea.” So maybe you’re new here to my podcast. If you are hello, welcome. And if you’re like, “I don’t even know what it takes to lose weight. I haven’t been successful yet,” here’s a good place to start: head to my website,  Okay? Schlag, S-C-H-L-A-G., click on the tab labeled “Fat Loss Crash Course,” sign up for that free course and I will walk you through, step-by-step, how to set up your nutrition and your training.
No panicking. We’re going to get you situated.
So this is a short episode. Thank you so much for listening to me today. I’ll be sharing a lot more about my comeback in the months to come. I’m not even well yet, so getting healthy is my top priority. I’ll be sharing more of what I’m doing with my nutrition for general health and then once I’m good to go, I will be busting my butt in the gym, and with my nutrition.
Now, I will tell you, I am not doing this alone. I am here huge believer in coaches. Even coaches need coaches and I have two of the best in the business. My buddies, Jordan Syatt and Mike Vacanti will be coaching me.
Jordan has been my coach for going on five years now. He helped me to get literally in the best shape of my life, the leanest, the strongest I’ve ever been. He also helped me to build my online business from the ground up. He’s going to be handling my training for this comeback. And Mike has been a mentor of mine in the past two years. I was a student in the inaugural year of the Online Fitness Business Mentorship that Mike and Jordan run together and then last year they brought me on as an assistant coach in that Mentorship.
And Mike is going to be handling my nutrition. He’s going to be writing my macros and holding me accountable. I’m planning for this comeback to be epic. I would be lying if I said like, “Oh, I’m so thrilled that I’ve had this massive setback in my health and fitness,” I have cried a ton. I have been very discouraged. I have been very frustrated. I have felt like, frankly, my life has been ripped out from under me many days, but I have learned to rest, I have been forced to learn to do that. That’s not a bad thing. It’s not a bad thing. And I am choosing to look at this as an opportunity — a forced opportunity — but you know, I could look at this as just a bad thing and woe is me, but I’m choosing to look at this as an opportunity to show you that no matter where you start, you can achieve whatever fitness goals you set.
I literally started with walking five minutes a day last week. And I plan to get in the best shape of my life at 50. So do not tell me that you’re too old or too out of shape. You got this.
Remember, head to my website — Free 5-Day Fat Loss Crash Course, see ya inside. Catch ya next episode!
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